“Who believes in democracy over dynasty?” he asked. “Who believes we’ve got to put communities ahead of corporations? And who believes that we need new blood in places like Lansing and D.C.?”
This brought applause and approval from the crowd.
The 32-year-old Detroit native running in the 2018 election for governor is a graduate of the University of Michigan. He is also an Oxford University Rhode Scholar with a medical degree from Columbia University.
During his visit to Spring Lake, El-Sayed shared his story: his Egyptian background, immigrated parents and life growing up in Michigan. Studying biology and politics in college, he explained that he wanted to “use science to help people.” This benefited him when he became the commissioner of the Detroit Health Department in 2015, with a mission to rebuild the agency.
El-Sayed defined politics today as being fixated on a sense of polarization, and challenged the idea that people are defined by a culture of fear and can’t see eye to eye with those who view the world differently.
“We have to stand together because the challenges that we face today, we can only solve them if we can do it together, if we are willing to stand up, arm in arm, recognize the future that we have in front of us is more than worth the effort,” he said.
El-Sayed emphasized the need for improvements in health systems, education, impoverished communities and Michigan’s economy.
Wesley Wilson, a 19-year-old student at Grand Valley State University and president of the Michigan Federation of College Democrats, asked El-Sayed his take on college tuition being covered by state funds.
Wilson said he was impressed with El-Sayed’s answer — he supports the state funding of college education — and called the candidate “authentic and being able to connect with people.”
When asked about infrastructure, El-Sayed said a government that works for and by people must invest in them.